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Photos: First Glimpse into a Mayan Tomb

Temple XX

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

Temple XX in the ancient Mayan city of Palenque. Under the temple is a 1,500-year-old burial chamber, unreachable except by micro-camera.

Upper Temple

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

To get to the hidden tomb, researchers had to descend from the top of the temple.

Descending into Temple XX

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

A ladder leads into Temple XX, from which archaeologists threaded a video camera into the burial chamber.

Hole in the Temple

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

A 6-inch (15 cm) by 6-inch hole leads to the unexplored burial chamber.

Red and Black

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

The first images of the inside of the 1,500-year-old burial chamber reveal red-and-black painted walls.

Mayan Mural

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

A mural decorating the walls of the 1,500-year-old burial chamber consists of nine characters outlined in black on red.

Tomb Decorations

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

Murals on the tomb walls.

Chamber of Secrets

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

A stepped ceiling and the thick slab gateway of the burial chamber.

Offerings for a Ruler

Mayan Temple XX

(Image credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH))

Pottery, jade and shell sit on the burial chamber floor. Archaeologists believe the burial chamber holds the fragmented bones of a ruler from around 431 to 550 AD.

Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.